Posted on February 10th, 2011 under Surgeons & Clinics.
Since writing my book and launching this website, I have been very fortunate to meet some amazing people. One such person is Dr. Marc Gillinov of the Cleveland Clinic. Not only is Dr. Gillinov an incredible surgeon but he is a patient advocate and a proactive supporter of our community.
That said, I was thrilled to interview Dr. Gillinov about the important — but sometimes overlooked — topic of cardiac depression. As I personally experienced, cardiac depression can be an unexpected and unnecessary pitfall during the recovery from heart valve surgery.
To learn more about Dr. Gillinov and read several patient testimonials for Dr. Gillinov, please click here. Finally, to help those patients and caregivers who are hearing impaired, I have provided a video transcript below:
Adam: Hi, everybody. It’s Adam and I’m here at STS in San Diego with Doctor Marc Gillinov and, as you know, we’re answering your questions that you posted on my blog and we have a very important question, I think, because I experience it related to cardiac depression and the question for Dr. Gillinov that came in was about what from a surgeon’s perspective would you use to identify somebody experiencing cardiac depression and then what would you suggest to the patient and their caregivers to treat that problem.
Marc Gillinov, MD: That’s an important question because if you fix somebody’s cardiac problem but they feel bad for other reasons, for example they’re severely depressed, that’s not a victory. The first thing to know about cardiac depression is that it is not normal. Some people might say, “Well, of course you’re depressed. You’ve got heart problems. You had heart surgery. Don’t worry. It will go away.” Hogwash. It’s not normal. You’re not supposed to be depressed but 20 to 25 percent of heart patients, whether it was surgery, angioplasty, heart valve surgery, or even medicines get depressed. How do you know if you’re depressed? If you are feeling lack of energy, lack of interest, you just don’t want to do anything, things that interested you before — from before just don’t even make you get off the couch, you might be depressed. In addition, if you’re really depressed and you’re having thoughts about harming yourself, then you’re for sure depressed. One of the problems is a lot of people don’t recognize it themselves. They might think, “Well, I don’t feel so well. I don’t have much energy because I’ve got something going on with my heart.” Therefore, it’s really important for the family to help out. Your husband, your wife, your brother, your sister, your kids, they might pick it up. And before your heart surgery or soon after you’ve had heart issues, have this discussion with your doctors. Ask, “Is depression a possibility here? Should I be on the lookout for it?” And have someone in the family present for that, too, because, again, you might miss it. And then, what if you get depressed? What if you have this lack of interest, lack of energy, feeling down? Don’t take the common advice which is “Don’t worry. It’ll go away.” Do nothing. You need to do something. What can you do for it? Exercise. I know it’s tough to get up, especially if you’ve just had heart surgery, but exercise is one of the single biggest things. In addition, if you have cardiac issues or you’re a cardiac patient or you’ve had heart surgery, definitely do cardiac rehab. I know. I’ve read about this in your blog.
Dr. Marc Gillinov: And how much it helped you. It helps everyone. Being around other people, learning about their experiences, realizing you’re not alone, again exercising, those things can help prevent depression and it can help treat it. And finally, if you’re still feeling down and you’re still feeling bad, see a psychologist because medical condition or a psychiatrist. There are medicines to treat it, but I think the most important thing is recognizing it happened. Don’t ignore it and fix it if it occurs. We all know it’s out there. Fix it. You don’t need to be depressed.
Adam: Great. Well, I just want to thank you for taking the time…
Dr. Gillinov: Oh, I’m into this.
Adam: As you know this — I experienced cardiac depression so hearing you talk about it, I’m sure it’s not only educational for me but for all the patients and their caregivers out there, this is something that should definitely be tracked as the patient is recovering from not just heart valve surgery but any type of procedure, so thanks again. This is Dr. Marc Gillinov from the Cleveland Clinic. You can learn more about him and his specialties at HeartValveSurgeons.com. Thanks so much.
Keep on tickin!